India has responded cautiously to US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad’s suggestion that New Delhi should directly engage with the Taliban, people familiar with developments indicated on Thursday.(AP/ File photo for representation)
India has responded cautiously to US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad’s suggestion that New Delhi should directly engage with the Taliban, people familiar with developments indicated on Thursday.(AP/ File photo for representation)

India yet to decide on issue of engaging the Taliban

During his visit to New Delhi last week, Khalilzad, the special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, called for India to engage with the Taliban and directly discuss its concerns related to terrorism.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By HT Correspondent | Edited by Niyati Singh
UPDATED ON MAY 14, 2020 09:49 PM IST

India has responded cautiously to US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad’s suggestion that New Delhi should directly engage with the Taliban, people familiar with developments indicated on Thursday, adding that a decision in this regard is yet to be made.

During his visit to New Delhi last week, Khalilzad, the special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, called for India to engage with the Taliban and directly discuss its concerns related to terrorism. During a media interview, he said that the US wants India to take on a more active role in the Afghan peace process.

“We have our own perspectives on Afghanistan and our traditional and neighbourly relations with the people of Afghanistan will continue to guide our Afghan policy,” one of the people cited above said on condition of anonymity.

The people indicated that India is yet to decide on the crucial issue of whether to engage with the Taliban.

For years, the Indian government has stayed away from any move to engage the Taliban, either directly or indirectly, largely because of concerns related to the terror group’s close links to the Pakistani military establishment.

The closest India has come to being at the same table as the Taliban was when New Delhi sent two former ambassadors as “non-official” representatives to a meeting under the Moscow Format mechanism in Russia in November 2018.

During their meetings with Khalilzad last week, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval conveyed India’s strong concerns about a spike in terrorist violence in Afghanistan and called for rooting out terror sanctuaries in Pakistan to ensure peace in the war-torn country.

“India is deeply concerned at the upsurge in violence and supports call for immediate ceasefire and [the] need to assist the people of Afghanistan in dealing with [the] coronavirus pandemic,” the external affairs ministry said in a statement on Khalilzad’s meetings.

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